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9 Jan, 2024 13:32

Son of African state’s ousted president released from house arrest

Salem Mohamed had been detained, along with his father and others, by Niger’s coup leaders since July 26
Son of African state’s ousted president released from house arrest

Niger’s military court has granted a provisional release from house arrest to Salem Mohamed, the son of the West African country’s ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum. The decision was announced in a statement by the tribunal on Monday.

Salem, 23, has been in detention at the presidential palace with his parents since his father, Bazoum, was overthrown in a military coup in late July. The coup leaders indicted him, along with the deposed president, on charges of conspiracy to undermine Niger’s authority and security.

His release is the result of negotiations between the Nigerien military rulers and Togo’s president, Faure Gnassingbe, according to a statement issued by the Togolese government, which has been mediating the political situation in Niger since the coup.

According to a source close to the ousted president cited by AFP, Salem arrived in the Togolese capital, Lome, on Monday evening after leaving Niamey earlier.

Niger’s new rulers, who have claimed that the military takeover was in response to the Bazoum government’s failure to combat Islamist terrorists in the Sahel region despite the presence of foreign troops, including those from France, have faced pressure to release the leader and his family, as well as other detained officials.

The military government previously accused Bazoum of attempting to flee from custody with his family to neighboring Nigeria with the assistance of a “foreign power.

The West African regional authority, ECOWAS, imposed severe sanctions on Niamey, with Western partners, including the US, Germany, and France, also suspending aid to the former French colony.

In retaliation, the coup leaders have taken a number of other steps to review relations with former allies, such as severing military ties with Paris over allegations of aggression. Niamey recently suspended all cooperation with the Paris-based International Organization of Francophone Nations (OIF), claiming it was nothing more than a political tool for France. Niger also canceled two military partnership missions with the EU after revoking an anti-migration agreement with the bloc.

A week ago, the French government announced that it had closed its embassy in Niger “until further notice,” citing “serious obstacles” in carrying out diplomatic duties in the former colony. Paris has repeatedly referred to Niamey’s newly installed government as “illegitimate,” and stated that it would support military action against the coup leaders, which ECOWAS has threatened to use in order to free Bazoum and restore democratic rule.

Washington, which Bazoum had earlier called on to intervene in restoring constitutional order in Niger, has stated that it will forge “pragmatic” relations with the coup leader rather than completely disengage.

Last month, the ECOWAS Court of Justice ruled that the detention of Bazoum and his relatives was arbitrary and ordered their release.